If you spent the weekend wondering what caused last Thursday night’s G train derailment in Downtown Brooklyn, you can now stop. It turns out, the G train crashed into a protruding bench-wall on its routine journey, and according to the Wall St. Journal, the crash was highly unusual, if not actually flat-out ironic because of what a bench-wall is.
In case you didn’t know (and we sure didn’t), bench-walls are typically used for carrying the cables and equipment needed by MTA employees so that they can evacuate subway trains during emergencies. It so happens however that the bench-wall just north of Hoyt-Schermerhorn station was slouching toward the train tracks at the time of impact due to its deterioration. The Journal reports that the train’s conductor activated the emergency brakes in an attempt to avoid the wall, but was too late to avoid impact.
Although the section of wall had passed an inspection about a month ago, MTA officials are unsure of whether or not a nearby construction site had funneled rain water onto the tracks, thus creating erosion.
In any case, the dire state of New York City subway stations have been further highlighted by the derailed train, which saw three people injured, two of whom were taken to a nearby hospital on Thursday night. Thomas F. Prendergast, the MTA’s Chairman, released a damning statement last Friday, asking City Hall to direct attention to chronically underfunded public transportation in New York.
“I am tired of writing letters to city officials that result only in vague calls for more conversations,” he wrote, adding that “The sooner we can end these games and get to work on rebuilding our transit network, the better we can serve the 8.5 million customers who rely on the M.T.A. every day.”
And the president of the union representing New York transit workers blamed the derailment on disinvestment. TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said in a statement, “The system won’t fix itself and for the sake of New York’s working families, the City must address this unfunded liability.”
As of early this year, MTA’s debt was greater than the combined national debts of 30 different countries. Given that, anxiety about freak occurrences like train derailments and routine fare hikes aren’t likely to taper off anytime soon, as MTA’s funding is controlled by the state governor’s office, which has been historically tight-fisted on bailing out the ailing system.
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